October 3, 2018 – After several weeks largely in the shadow of Britain’s biggest warship, HMS Monmouth will be seen by upwards of 300,000 people over the next five days.
The Plymouth-based frigate joins more than a dozen warships, classic sailing vessels and even a World War 2 Liberty ship at one of the biggest naval ‘festivals’ in the USA: Maryland Fleet Week/Baltimore Air Show.
Since leaving Devonport in August, Monmouth has spent her time shadowing HMS Queen Elizabeth, the carrier’s guardian against the prying eyes of hostile submarines and also ‘plane guard’ for her maiden F-35 Lightning trials, acting both as a reference point for the test pilots and rescuer in the event of an accident.
In addition, she’s been instrumental in another debut on the carrier’s flight deck: the first visit by a Wildcat helicopter, namely Monmouth’s, callsign Blackjack.
After last week’s inaugural Lightning landings and take-offs by Commander Nathan Gray and Squadron Leader Andy Edgell, the task group was joined by US destroyer USS Lassen and supply ship USNS Supply, creating a true carrier task group as envisaged when HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales deploy on operations next decade… and reinforcing the close relationship between the two navies as Britain returns to fast jet/traditional carrier duties after nearly a decade’s hiatus.
Beyond carrier escort duties, the Black Duke – named after the rebellious 17th Century Duke of Monmouth – is also expected to operate independently should the mission require. Hence the visit to Baltimore.
Just half an hour’s train ride from Washington DC, the port city is gearing up for an influx of at least 300,000 visitors over the fleet week/air show’s duration.
Monmouth is open daily throughout the festival, berthed at Under Armor Jetty, with sailors welcoming visitors aboard between 1pm and 6pm from Thursday until Monday (closing the gangway at 5pm on Friday).
“I am delighted to be sailing HMS Monmouth to Baltimore to participate in Maryland Fleet Week,” said the frigate’s Commanding Officer Commander Will King.
“My sailors have been working hard to support HMS Queen Elizabeth as she conducts iconic first-of-class F-35 flying trials, and we are now thrilled to have the opportunity to show off the ‘Black Duke’ to the people of Maryland.”